Hodgenville City Hall, known also as the Civic Center, became more “visitor friendly” last week with the addition of a tourism desk.
The large cabinet, filled with nooks and crannies to store literature, maps and pamphlets about Hodgenville, rests beside the city clerk’s office.
It features a carved city emblem with Abraham Lincoln in the center and the date of the city’s founding, 1818.
Mayor Terry Cruse said he designed most of the cabinet. It was constructed by Walters Cabinets at a cost of $6,233.
Adding the tourism desk fulfills part of the city council’s dream of 2005 to convert the former First Baptist Church into a visitor’s center. Federal, state and local tax money was funneled into LaRue County for the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration and the old church was purchased with some of that money.
City Clerk MaDonna Hornback said she has contacted restaurants and other businesses in the area, offering space for brochures and menus.
“Tourists want to know where to eat,” she said.
Other “business destinations” like Lee’s Garden Center and Hinton’s Orchard will have pamphlets.
Cruse plans to have a DVD made of some of the attractions and play it on a large TV behind the tourism desk.
“Places like Almost Home and Nancy’s that offer crafts (and unique items) ..., that’s what we want to highlight on the TV,” Hornback said.
Several people have picked up brochures from the desk.
City Hall is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cruse said there is a possibility of opening for tourist information on Saturdays during summer months.
A new sign is being installed in front of the civic center.
The brickwork was completed by J&H Masonry. An illuminated, electronic message sign has been ordered from Rodgers Sign Service.
Cruse and Hornback envision putting timely messages on the sign: boil water advisories, little league signups, free movie nights, school events, weather alerts, Lincoln Days events and classic car cruise-ins.
“We hope people will look at it as an informational source,” said Hornback. “Hopefully other groups will give us information.”
The complete installation of the digital sign is $19,650, including foundation, masonry and electric work.
The city considered another sign in a more traditional style; however it cost about $1,000 more and lacked the message feature.
Cruse said the city had received a settlement of $22,303.57 in a class action suit (City of Greenville vs. Syngenta) that will be used for the sign.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, alleged that Syngenta Crop Protection LLC marketed the herbicide atrazine that has been found in some community water systems.
The lawsuit requested that Syngenta bear the cost of removing atrazine from the water supplies, according to a website about the case, http://www.atrazinesettlement.com/EN/faq.
Syngenta has denied the allegations in the lawsuit and asserts that atrazine has been repeatedly and safely used for more than 50 years to control weeds in corn, sorghum, sugar cane and specialty crops. The chemical ended up in ground and surface waters due to runoff from fields.
The City of Hodgenville was not included in the original complaint. “In a class action lawsuit, one court resolves the case for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. The court decided that this lawsuit could proceed as a class action for the purpose of settlement because it meets the requirements for a class action settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal court,” according to the website.
Both sides agreed to a settlement to avoid the burden and expense of further litigation.